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A Teachable Moment: An Open Letter to Erica Bryant

Op/Ed By Howard Eagle


#31900089_10204280319601419_6946808550011Dear Erica,

Thank you for writing the long-overdue, June 12 editorial, “Cowards hide behind racist hate mail.

Your effort, relative to elucidating this old, old, very serious, volatile, and potentially explosive, socioeconomic and sociocultural issue is commendable.

However, I would be remiss not to point out the fact that your powerful employer must make up its schizophrenic-like, institutional mind, about whether it plans to play a decisive, and consistent, role in helping to combat, and significantly reduce, the ongoing prevalence, and impact, of the dual-headed monster, and disease, of individual and institutionalized racism, or whether it will function as a systematic perpetrator.

The powerful institution cannot have it both ways, which I maintain it is currently doing. Either it must serve as a clear, and unambiguous, anti-racist force, or as a perpetrator. And, if it attempts to straddle the fence regarding thoroughly dichotomous positions or directions, then it will necessarily, and inevitably, function in the latter role.

I understand the unique position in which the institution has found itself, i.e., struggling with the responsibility of balancing the right of free speech and expression, while at the same time, not infringing upon peoples’ legal, civil, and human rights. I’m certain this is not an easy task.

However, when some readers have been allowed to utilize the institution’s platforms (both print and electronic) to spew hate-filled, racist, ideas and notions, routinely; then, on the other hand, other well-learned readers have been restricted access, or banned (including yours truly), it prevents us from accessing the same platforms, in order to counter those vicious and/or inaccurate ideas and opinions, and, this becomes very problematic.

In fact, it represents a classic contradiction, and potential hypocrisy.

A concrete, classic example of this common practice can be found at the following link: .

The “public criticism” of Jennifer Leonard, the powerful president and CEO of the Rochester Area Community Foundation  mentioned in the article at the link above, really had not been “criticism” at all, but instead had been a matter of corrective-critique, offered by none other than yours truly.

However, shortly afterward, the result had been that I was banned from posting on the so-called “Unite” Rochester’s newly-launched website, and I haven’t been allowed to post there since. Even though Leonard admits in the article that, I “was correct, and the narrative [she] had learned was not right.”

Even the narrative in the article is still not right, i.e., the article states, I “expressed how some immigrants were brought to the country as slaves,” which is NOT what I expressed. Instead, I had noted that millions were NOT “immigrants” at all, but instead had been kidnapped, and forcibly brought here, as enslaved “chattel,” as opposed to being so-called “immigrants.”

Clearly, my banning was the result of Ms. Leonard having been, “bruised by the [so-called] public criticism.”

In other words, (likely due to that which Dr. Robin DiAngelo has researched and labeled as “white fragility,” at ( ) Karen Magnuson, vice president of news at the D&C, and a leader of so-called “Unite” Rochester, made the decision to ban me, because I “harassed” Ms. Leonard.

Apparently, Magnuson felt the need to protect Ms. Leonard’s feelings, which had been so-called “bruised” by a black “bully.” I know this because Ms. Magnuson told me so.

Again, this situation represents a clear and classic example of systematic, individual and institutional support, and perpetuation, of the dual-headed disease, and beast; i.e., A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF INTERSECTIONALITY RELATIVE TO INDIVIDUAL AND INSTITUTIONALIZED RACISM.

The two have been thoroughly intertwined, totally bound together, and have been completely inseparable from one another. For instance, there can be no continued racism, without continued racists.

Additionally, it is important to ask why the D&C, and/or other mainstream media, or media period, have NOT done a substantive news story about the constant and consistently “grotesque” attacks, and mis-information, routinely “written about local black politicians on anonymous online forums like Craigslist Rants and Raves?”

I raise this question to highlight the fact that, in addition to those who’ve considered themselves to be anti-racist forces, and constantly aware of their conscious and/or unconscious, perpetual, enabling actions; it may be just as important for them to be aware of their perpetual, enabling inactions, the latter of which have sometimes been more damaging than the former (due to the latter’s reinforcement effects).

Consider, for example, that so-called “Unite” Rochester, Facing Race = Embracing Equity, Community Task Force On School Climate, Metro Justice Racial Justice Committee, and numerous other local, so-called, anti-racist forces have not uttered (publicly) a single word about numerous, recent, local, blatantly-racist incidents, including the Henrietta Town Supervisor’s recent, “city cousins” comments (another prime example of the interconnectedness, and inseparability, of the TWO MAJOR FORMS OF RACISM, BOTH INDIVIDUAL AND INSTITUTIONALIZED).

If fighting racism is NOT about holding INDIVIDUALS AND INSTITUTIONS accountable for racist actions, and/or inactions, then it’s NOT about anything at all, period.